Monday, October 31, 2011

The Next Futurity Prospect

Something funny often happens to the Kurtz family at the Snaffle Bit Futurity once the competition begins to wind down and before the finals on Sunday. We find ourselves at the first of several Snaffle Bit prospect horse sales.

So after Andy finished up his Snaffle Bit runs this past September, we all headed for the first yearling sale. Lo and behold, in the catalog were several lots that caught our eye. And before the afternoon was over we became happy owners of a new futurity prospect. Andy has christened her, "J-LO," and will be working with her through Andy Kurtz Performance Horses.

Enjoy watching our new yearling having some fun in the round pen at Whitney's Wild Oaks Ranch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Women Writing the West Conference: Calling All Readers

If I were to distill my Women Writing the West Conference weekend in Seattle, Washington, I would say I know now more than ever that the world of authors is broken into two parts. The first part is the disciplined and quiet writing life fueled by an introvert. The second part is the necessary and evolving world of marketing requiring the skills of an extrovert.

Among the many wonderful conference panelists in attendance was Amy Weinstein, a member of Amazon’s Kindle team, who spoke to us about the opportunities of publishing e-books and marketing on Amazon. The ability for an author, particularly one who has published independently, to publish an e-book with relative ease certainly makes it easier to reach national reader audience.

Amy also suggested that writers who have books available through Amazon make effective use of their visibility by inviting readers to write reviews of their book. She said when consumers are shopping for books they depend heavily on reviewer information in deciding whether or not to purchase.

Now home, the introvert is back at the writing desk still wishing I had a marketing maven handling my book. But I don’t. So following Amy's lead, the extrovert would like to ask if any of you who have read my book would have a minute or two to write a review on Amazon I would appreciate your support. And I would encourage you, too, to write for other authors whom you’ve enjoyed.

The direct link to my book on is:

I'd like to extend a big thank you to the hard-working WWW conference committee members for an outstanding 2011 conference. I appreciated meeting so many supportive and friendly WWW authors and book industry professionals. See you in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2012!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Buck -- Well Worth Watching

I’d enthusiastically recommend that viewers from any background to be sure and see Buck, the new documentary movie about Buck Brannaman, a long-time horse trainer and clinician from Sheridan, Wyoming. My husband, Pete, and I enjoyed the award winning movie over the weekend and were impressed by both the filming and the storytelling. Awarded the U.S. Documentary Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, the story of Buck’s life is one of a man who transcended his up-bringing to create a compassionate understanding of horses.

For more information on Buck, go to:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Women Writing the West Conference - Seattle, Washington

I'm looking forward to attending the 2011 Women Writing the West Conference in Seattle, Washington this weekend, October 14-16. I will join members from around the United States and Canada whose work includes all genres written with a western theme.

Conference highlights include two evenings of honoring the LAURA and WILLA finalists and winners. The LAURA Award is presented to short fiction writers and is named in the memory of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The WILLA Award is presented to those who write about women's and girls' stories set in the West and is named in memory of Willa Cather, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.

During the day I'll be attending a number of workshops including one on marketing, the art of telling true stories, and alternative publishing. Each late afternoon I will join other published writers in the conference book store for book sales and signings.

While I have my eye on certain experiences during the conference, I know it's often the unexpected that occurs while attending conferences: whether it might be learning about a creative writing tool from another genre or finding something in common with someone beyond my day to day experience. So, whether I'm in a scheduled session or hearing new ideas, I look forward to taking in a fresh perspective on the art of writing and its role in my life.

For more information on Women Writing the West, go to:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pete and Cassidy Compete in the CSU Silver Jubilee

Over the past weekend, Pete and Cassidy joined competitors from around the region to compete in the CSU Silver Jubilee Celebration at the CSU Equine Events Center. Hosted by the students CSU's Equine Sciences program, the annual event drew over seventy-five horse enthusiasts.

Riders had the option of competing in the American Stock Horse Association events or the American Quarter Horse events. Pete and Cassidy rode Annabelle and Riggs in the AQHA Ranch Horse Versatility events held on Sunday. The day's events included Ranch Cutting, Ranch Trail, Ranch Riding, Working Ranch Horse, and Conformation classes.

Pete and Annabelle had a good outing particularly in the Ranch Cutting class. Cassidy and Riggs rode well in the Ranch Riding and Cassidy threw a wicked loop in the Working Ranch Horse class. They both seemed pleased with their work for the day and the enjoyment of watching others show in the ring.

For more information on the ASHA, go to:
For more information on the AQHA, go to:
For more information on versatility ranch horse events, go to:

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Snaffle Bit Futurity 2011

Every year for two weeks in late September and early October, one of the most challenging horse competitions anywhere takes place in Reno, Nevada. For the uninitiated, the Snaffle Bit Futurity is a three event competition for three-year old horses including herd work, rein work, and cow work. The Futurity also offers competitive classes for hackamore and bridle horses. In the Snaffle Bit competition this year over 200 hundred competitors participated in preliminary open events with just 10% of the competitors qualifying for the finals event on Sunday, October 1, 2011.

This year my son, Andy, competed for the second time in Reno on his horse Jane, owned by Dawn Joyce. Although Andy and Jane’s overall performance was not what he’d hoped for, their run in the cow work ended their competition on a pleasingly good note. Each time Andy, competes he appreciates more than ever the experience itself, the realization that the Snaffle Bit Futurity is truly one of the toughest events in any sport without any guarantees for anyone. The smallest of mistakes can cost a competitor an opportunity to move into the final round or to finish well in the final event itself. As Andy has said, “It’s always humbling, no matter whom you are.” He also enjoys being with and among some of the most talented trainers and horses anywhere.

In addition to participating in and watching some of the best horses and riders in any equine event, there are many industry and retail vendors at the show, plus any number of social events held throughout the competition. The event venue offers attendees and competitors a wonderful opportunity to visit and network with friends, professionals, and other industry leaders.

This year Andy had the opportunity of becoming reacquainted with an old family friend, Vern Greco, owner of The New West Country Store in Kamas, Utah. Vern carries Bob’s Saddles and was the sponsor of all award saddles at the Snaffle Bit. While in Reno Andy and Vern negotiated a sponsorship agreement whereby Andy will be proudly representing Vern’s store and the New West brand.

So, if you have any need for one of the best saddles anywhere, be sure to visit Vern at the New West Country Store.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Remembering a Chipmunk's Winter Preparations

Over the weekend, when I was deep in the dirt with a bulging box of bulbs waiting to be planted, I thought of a story I had read as a child of a small chipmunk who was taught to be prepared and self-sufficient for the coming winter. Alongside his mother and father he was taught and encouraged to gather and store all the nuts his family would need for the long season ahead. He completed his work with a finely tuned and peaceful focus on the task at hand. Looking back I remember feeling reassured in the world the chipmunk and his family had ordered.

Although the task of getting the bulbs in the ground in a timely fashion before the snow falls in our part of country is usually a hectic rush to beat the next season, this year the bulb company sent my order earlier than ever before. This was due in part to my request that it be sent, not according to their planting zones, but to the reality that winter comes to northwestern Colorado as early as the third week of October. I have often planted the last bulb the afternoon before winter settled in.

So, with the chipmunk on my mind, a relaxed planting schedule, my notes indexed for each garden and each bag of bulbs, I entered the gardens. However, as careful as I had been taking notes earlier in the summer, not all my notes matched up with what I found in my Breck’s box. I asked myself more than once, “What are these Triumphant Tulips for?” and “Where are the Tip Toe Tulips I ordered? I want Tip Toe not Triumphant.” Then I read in my notes, “mixed tulips, two feet by two feet around St. Francis and at the back of the old tulips.” “What?” I said to myself in a loud whisper, “What does that mean?”

Despite my best intentions, I felt I was missing, in part, the mark of my memory of the small chipmunk and his family's orderly preparations. Even though by dinnertime I had managed to get several hundred bulbs put to bed, a number of bulbs remained a mystery. I really had no idea where they belonged so I planted them in a random fashion. Perhaps when they emerge next spring they will be colorful surprises worth watching. Who knows, they may very well provide a new creative look in the gardens I had never imagined.

Unlike the nut gathering of the small chipmunk, my bulb planting wasn’t going to help me survive the coming winter. But participating in the annual ritual of planting bulbs in the moist earth with the promise of their bloom come spring provided the same kind of peace I remember from reading the small chipmunk's story. As I dug down three, six, and sometimes eight inches and placed the Sunny Girl Daffodils, Angelique Tulips, and Grape Hyacinths I’m acted on a faith in the surety of the seasons. Planting these small tubers provided a feeling of assurance: that after a long winter’s night they will emerge, just as the natural world intended.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book Signing at the West Routt Library

I'd like to thank Ana Lash at the West Routt Library for organizing my book signing on Thursday, September 15th. The library, located in the center of Hayden, Colorado, is wonderful community resource complete with easily accessible technology and two inviting sitting areas: a patio for warm weather and a comfortable living room area complete with fireplace.

Ana and her assistant, Karen, offered coffee, tea, and light pastries for those who came to visit with me and discuss my book. Among those who stopped by were old friends Judy and Jerry Green, whom I write about in my book; Christine Epp, a local teacher and world-wide educational volunteer; and Maureen Zehner, who purchased a beautiful palomino horse from Pete a year ago.

I always appreciate the opportunity to share my writing with others as well as understanding how the writing resonated with the reader. It's as though the act of writing is not complete until it touches those who read it. Thank you all for taking time to come by.